Hallyu: The rise and rise of K-Culture around the world

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Since the beginning of the 2000s, something cool has been happening all over the world, catching the hearts of people worldwide. It’s called K-Culture, which is just a short way of saying Korean Culture. This culture from South Korea has become super popular everywhere. You might have heard of it as the Korean Wave or Hallyu.

How did they do it? Movies and TV shows from Korea are known for having their style, high production standards, and new stories. There are a lot of loyal fans of K-culture worldwide because it is different from other cultural exports: the content is very good.

Rise of K-Pop Giants

K-Culture includes many different things like music, TV shows, movies, clothes, food, and language. People everywhere love it! K-pop music, especially groups like BTS and Blackpink, has become household names, both locally and internationally. Their catchy songs and awesome dance moves have made them big stars worldwide.

The success of K-pop alone brings in billions of dollars, and many people say they visit South Korea just because of K-pop. Even with the challenges of COVID-19, South Korea’s tourism industry is bouncing back strong, and K-pop is a big reason for that.

BTS Korean Boy Band known as Bangtan with members RM, Jin, Suga, J-Hope, Jimin, V, and Jungkook.
BTS, also known as the Bangtan Boys, is a globally renowned South Korean boy band formed by Big Hit Entertainment. The group consists of seven members: RM, Jin, Suga, J-Hope, Jimin, V, and Jungkook. BTS has achieved immense success both in South Korea and internationally, known for their music, performances, and social impact. They have broken numerous records, topped charts worldwide, and have a massive fan base known as the ARMY.
Blackpink, South Korean girl group, consisting of members Jisoo, Jennie, Rosé, and Lisa.
Blackpink is a South Korean girl group, consisting of members Jisoo, Jennie, Rosé, and Lisa. They are considered the “biggest girl group in the world” and are recognized as the most successful Korean girl group internationally. Some of Blackpink’s most popular songs are Ddu-Du Ddu-Du, Kill This Love, Boombayah, and many more.

Impact of Korean Television and Films

People all over the world love Korean TV shows and movies, thanks to sites like Netflix and YouTube. Huge hits like “Squid Game” and “Train To Busan” get people all over the world interested in Korean stories. It greatly influenced both people around the world and K-Culture.

They love the stories and how they mix old and new traditions. Squid Game has become the most-watched show on Netflix in 90 countries, including Ireland, showcasing its broad international appeal. The series is part of the Korean Wave, or Hallyu, which has been sweeping the globe with Korean cultural products.

The Squid game series is based on a secret competition where 456 players, all of whom are having a very hard time with money, risk their lives to play a series of dangerous children's games in order to win a ₩45.6 billion prize.
The Guards, who are also called Pink Soldiers or Masked Men, are the people who work for the Front Man and keep the Squid Games running smoothly and make sure everyone follows the rules.

After Squid Game came out, sellers of dalgona, the honeycomb candy that was featured in the show, saw a big jump in sales both in Korea and around the world. In the weeks after the show’s opening, sales of everyday clothes that looked like those worn on the show, like Vans slip-on shoes and green tracksuits, went up a lot. South Korea’s clothing industry had a short comeback when people wanted to buy clothes that were inspired by Squid Game. After the first episode of Squid Game aired, sellers of costume accessories like the guards’ masks also saw a lot of extra business as people got ready for Halloween.

In the middle of the dalgona is a hole that the player has picked. Each player has 10 minutes to use the needle to get their shape out of the candy without breaking it. If the timer runs out or the candy breaks, they are out of the game and dead.
Dalgona is made in ladles over small burners on the streets of many Korean cities and is a very popular treat with kids.

Planning to visit Korea? These travel essentials will help you plan your trip, get the best deals, and save you time and money before and during your Korean adventure.

Visas & K-ETA: Some travellers to Korea need a Tourist Visa, but most can travel with a Korean Electronic Travel Authorisation (K-ETA). Currently 22 Countries don’t need either one.

How To Stay Connected: Pre-order a Korean Sim Card or a WiFi Router to collect on-arrival at Incheon Airport (desks open 24-hours). Alternatively, download a Korean eSIM for you travels.

Where To Stay: For Seoul, I recommend Myeongdong (convenient), Hongdae (cool culture) or Gangnam (shopping). For Busan, Haeundae (Beach) or Seomyeon (Downtown).

Incheon Airport To Seoul: Take the Airport Express (AREX) to Seoul Station or a Limo Bus across Seoul. Book an Incheon Airport Private Transfer and relax to or from the airport.

Korean Tour Operators: Tour companies that have a big presence in Korea include Klook, Trazy, Viator, and Get Your Guide. These sites offer discounted entry tickets for top attractions.

Seoul City Passes: Visit Seoul’s top attractions for free with a Discover Seoul Pass or Go City Seoul Pass. These passes are great for families and couples visiting Seoul – you can save lots.

How To Get Around: For public transport, grab a T-Money Card. Save money on Korea’s high speed trains with a Korea Rail Pass. To see more of Korea, there are many rental car options from Klook, EconomyBookings, and RentalCars.

Travel Money: Use money exchanges near Myeongdong and Hongdae subway stations for the best exchange rates. Order a Wise Card or WOWPASS to pay by card across Korea.

Flights To Korea: I use flight comparison sites such as Expedia and Skyscanner to find the best flights to Korea from any country. Air Asia is a good option for budget flights from Asia.

Travel Insurance: It is important to insure your trips to protect yourself against the unexpected. World Nomad is a specialized travel insurance provider with options for different coverage for travellers from around the world. You can also purchase cover when you are already travelling.

How To Learn Korean: The language course from 90 Day Korean or Korean Class 101 both have well-structured lessons and lots of useful resources to help you learn Korean.

Influence of Fashion on K-Culture

Korean fashion is super popular worldwide, thanks to the Korean Wave or Hallyu. This wave has made people everywhere interested in K-Culture, like music, TV shows, movies, and food. The cool styles and looks from Korean fashion have caught the attention of people all over the world. Lots of people who love K-Culture want to visit South Korea to see the fashion, music, and entertainment up close. This has helped boost tourism in South Korea, which is good for their economy.

korean fashion
Gianna Jun, whose real name is Jun Ji-hyun, is a South Korean actor and model. She became famous for her part in the love comedy My Sassy Girl, which was a huge hit all over Asia and a big step forward for Korean filmmaking in other countries. She’s also a beauty icon. Before she became an actress, she was a model. She has been a brand spokeswoman for Burberry, Calvin Klein, Omega, and Alexander McQueen.

Korean fashion trends, often started by K-pop stars, have become popular everywhere. Styles like big clothes, bright colors, and wearing lots of layers are now cool all over the world. Many designers and fans get inspiration from Korean fashion and this big success has also made South Korea more powerful globally.

K-pop and K-dramas, in particular, have become big draws for tourists coming to South Korea. A report from South Korea’s culture and tourism office says that K-pop has become the main reason people come to the country, beating out Korean food and cultural content.

New Visa Options for K-Culture Lover

Because of the non-stop popularity of K-pop and K-dramas around the world, South Korea added two new visas in 2024. This is to attract foreign talent, promote cultural exchange, boost tourism, and enhance the country’s global reputation as a hub for remote work and K-Culture. These Two Visa Programs might be the ones you’re looking for!

Digital Nomad Visa or the Workation Visa

As of January 1st, 2024, South Korea has released a new visa called the workation visa, aiming to encourage longer stays for foreign visitors. Unlike tourist visas that typically last for 90 days, this visa allows visitors to stay for up to two years, combining work and travel.

How does it work?

Foreigners had to apply for tourist visas or stay for less than 90 days without a visa for a “workcation” in Korea. The new system allows employees and employers from overseas companies to visit and work remotely in Korea for a longer period.

To apply, you must submit documents to the Korean embassy in your country proving an annual income of over 84.96 million won ($65,860), which is double Korea’s gross national income per capita for 2022.

Applicants also need to provide proof of employment, a criminal record check and proof of private health insurance with coverage of at least 100 million won for emergency travel. Applicants must be 18 or older and have at least one year of experience in their current job.

Once granted the visa, digital nomads can bring their spouses and children under 18. The visa allows an initial stay of one year, with the option to extend for another year, making the maximum stay two years.

K-culture Training Visa or Hallyu Visa

And big news for fans of K-Culture! South Korea is introducing a special visa just for you called the Hallyu visa, also known as the “K-culture Training Visa.” This visa will change how people who love South Korean culture can experience the country.

The Hallyu visa is named after the “Korean Wave,” which is the huge popularity of South Korean culture worldwide. It shows that South Korea cares about its culture and wants to welcome fans from everywhere. The Korean Tourism Board (KTB) says the new visa is for foreigners who love South Korean pop culture, especially those who are coming to Korea to work in the entertainment industry or study topics that are connected to it. It’s like a dream come true for anyone who loves Korean music, movies, and art.

In 2015, South Korea introduced the Entertainment and Culture visa. The new 2024 K-culture visa, on the other hand, lets you stay longer (than 90 days), gives you more job options in all arts, culture, and entertainment fields, and makes it easier to apply for jobs in the music industry and at reputable South Korean academies.

The exact requirements for the K-Culture Visa have not been revealed yet, but more information is anticipated to be available by the latter half of 2024. Fans of K-Culture are buzzing with excitement as more details about the Hallyu visa come out. This visa is a big deal for anyone who loves Korean music, dramas, and more. It’s opening up new opportunities to experience the culture of South Korea like never before.

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About the author

Hi! My name is Joel, I'm the author of In My Korea and writer of this article. I've lived, worked and travelled in Korea since 2015 and want to share my insights, stories and tips to help you have the best experience during your trip to Korea.

I love learning more about Korean culture, hiking the many mountains, and visiting all the coolest places in Korea, both modern and traditional. If you want to know more about my story, check out the 'about me' section to learn why I love living in Korea.

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